From hot desking to home desking: ‘Agile working’ is officially the latest City trend
Global behemoth Dentons has confirmed that its UK lawyers can now work from the comfort of their own home for up to one day-a-week.
Dentons — which has around 7,000 lawyers making it the world’s largest law firm by headcount — will allow its UK partners, associates and legal executives across its London, Milton Keynes and Watford offices the option to work from home on an “ad hoc or informal basis”.
Jeremy Cohen, who is Dentons’ CEO for the UK, Middle East and Africa, said:
Modern technology enables us to work in a more agile way and means that we are not tied to working in the office in the way we once were. We want to support staff to find the right balance between being highly responsive to clients while juggling all the other demands on their time. We are encouraging our partners to lead the way and support this new initiative to ensure it is a success across all of our teams and departments.
Dentons — that offers around 20 training contracts annually — will consider expanding agile working more widely across the UK business later in the year.
Like Dentons, a number of City firms including Clifford Chance, Linklaters and Herbert Smith Freehills already offer their lawyers the option to work from home one day-a-week. Mishcon de Reya, Quinn Emanuel, Wedlake Bell, Foot Anstey and DAC Beachcroft have also adopted similar schemes.
Even US firms in the City — renowned for their strenuous working environments — are trying to promote a more flexible culture.
Having successfully implemented a “remote working policy” for it US lawyers, the London office of Shearman & Sterling revealed that it was hoping to roll something similar out this side of the pond, pending an internal review. It also emerged that the City office of US-based giant Mayer Brown was piloting an agile working scheme within its busy construction department. This is due to conclude later this summer when feedback will be collected before any decision regarding a permanent policy is taken.
However, not everyone is convinced. Speaking last year, a trainee at a top City firm — who preferred to remain anonymous — told Legal Cheek:
I fail to see how this flexible working scheme will improve my work/life balance. The option to work from home one day a week — which is effectively a token gesture by firms — fails to adequately address the high stress levels and chronic hours faced by many lawyers in the City. In addition to this, I prefer keeping my work and home life separate.